Voices

Lockdown Poetry: Prachi Jha and Rianka Bose Saha

We bring you two poems by Indian poets as part of our Lockdown Poetry series.

These poems are part of our Lockdown Poetry series, selected from participants of eShe’s Lockdown Poetry Contest 2020 for women writers held this July.

Here, we bring to you the works of Prachi Jha and Rianka Bose Saha.

Birds

© Prachi Jha

In the early days
I woke with a frantic trill in my ears
A little warbling thrush
Feeling the rush
Of adrenalin, raring to go
Filling up my days
With the happy confusion of things half-done
Preparing for the final crescendo

It never came
Gradually, my limbs learned to unfold
With the song of a morning dove
Setting a strange rhythmic
precedent
To ordinary living
And dying

Then came the grunt
Of a pelican in my gut
A mordant protest at wings drenched
In a viscous silence
An oil spill invading
Calm waters

Now, just
A discordant clacking
Geese flapping their angry wings
Against my chest
Souring every conversation
And intent

Prachi Jha runs a science education and outreach NGO called Life Lab Foundation. She is the co-founder of Daak, a digital publication and weekly newsletter that curates South Asian art and literature. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in development studies at the Graduate Institute, Geneva.

Dystopian Sleep

© Rianka Bose Saha

As I sat there
Measuring my time again
Against the empty old road
I remembered the cacophony
Of mismatched voices
All in a hurry
To reach somewhere,
Where are they now
I wonder sometimes?
The mad rush of ebullient voices
And the clamour of rushing feet
All jostling for a piece of sun
The grey road, bones aching
Weary with footfalls
And
Unending fatigue
Of the city that never sleeps
Now lies in a puddle of froth
Bubbling from the corners of
A dystopian sleep
The bearings of untruth and truth
All lie curled up, expectantly
Yet pensive is the mood
Sometimes I vociferate
Angrily, to the quiet world outside
But my voice ricochets back, empty
The walls outside feel cluttered
Claustrophobic inside my skin
My home looks back, accusing
But I have nowhere to go
The fatigued air conditioner
Stares hard at me
The air all stale,
Rehashing what I breathed
Days ago, and the clutter grows
Like a fungus inside me
My next door neighbour
Her screams wake me up at night
Every day
It’s like clockwork
Every day at eight
She bleeds silently
I see her sometimes
Her pure skin in patches
Of frozen blood
Yet the blackened eyes
Kohl smudged
I gasp for breath
I pray for a reprieve
For a bit of snowstorm
In the July heat
I talk to my walls
Sometimes they talk back
Mostly anxious
About taking too much space
In my mind
I assuage them, I am fine
So I take out a book, covers frayed
Dog eared and ancient
I read it again
And again
Till sleep beckons
But sometimes I am not tired
Or melancholy enough
To lie down and sleep
So as the days collide
Merging with the hems of each other
With an unpractised embrace
I sit and watch the starry nights
Trying the patterns on my skin
As you would sometimes do
But we are unaccustomed of each other now
And the abyss only grows
Devoid of the scents or embraces
You are on the far side of the moon
And I cannot fathom
Your eyes anymore
My wheelchair becomes my prison
The garden
Where the birds chirp
I do not see the children anymore
I would love to write you a letter about this, sometimes
But I just shoot a two-line message instead,
The giant machine broke, I write
You send a laugh emoticon my way.

Rianka Bose Saha, 35, is an HR professional and published writer who loves to experiment with various writing styles. She is a full-time mom and a daydreamer, mostly lost in the suspense thriller novels strewn around her. She dreams of owning a little library some day.

First published in eShe’s November 2020 issue

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